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who made it? (TMB Signature Series)

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#1 aorion314

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Posted 18 June 2022 - 09:31 PM

aorion314 here, while surfing I came across an old CN post (2006-time frame) by Thomas M. Black wherein, he stated that he was unable to state who made the lens for the TMB signature series, (possible legal reasons) and has acknowledged it is his design. Well, TMB has been long past from this earth, does anybody out there have any knowledge as to origins of the lens. The scope I purchased from Astronomics many years ago. So, any info as to the history that one has, please share. Respectfully submitted. 



#2 bobhen

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Posted 19 June 2022 - 07:17 AM

According to the review of the TMB 130ss on CN, the lenses were made in Taiwan. What company made them is not stated. 

 

Bob



#3 aorion314

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 12:48 AM

aorion314 here, per a private conversation with another CN member, yes, the lens was produced in Taiwan, by a company based in Japan which moved its production to Taiwan, and per TMB as long as the production produced the lens to his design specs., it was not a concern. Additionally, many other big-name camera producers moved their production facilities to Taiwan in the same general time frame. AS an owner of a TMB designed Astrotech 111mm and the legendary TMB 130 SS both scopes have performed at an exceptional level and TMB designed scopes have held their value and esteem over nearly 2 decades of my possession of these 2 scopes. respectfully submitted.


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#4 Brollen

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 07:39 AM

Aorion314 - curious on how the views through the SVX140 compare to those through the TMB 130SS? Have you had a chance to compare the two?


Edited by Brollen, 20 June 2022 - 07:40 AM.


#5 hyia

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 09:15 AM

The TMB signature series was designed by TMB for Astronomics.  TMB was also involved in aspects of production as well.  There were three TMB signature series scopes, an 80, a 92, and a 130.  The lenses for the 80, which was done first, were originally made in China.  TMB was not satisfied with the output, so, production was moved to Taiwan and Japan.  The actual manufacturer was never disclosed as far as I know.  The current AT92, if I understand correctly, is an update of the TMB92ss design tweaked by Roger Ceragioli to work with the glasses/coatings currently available.  I think that all of these have the reputation of being optically excellent. 

 

NB:  I am writing this by memory, but more details can be had by searching for posts made by Astronomics/Mike who has shared some of this information in the past.

 

 

EDIT:  See post #9 below for correction of introduction order.  As noted, see posts from Astronomics/Mike (links compiled by Jeff below) for authoritative information.


Edited by hyia, 20 June 2022 - 12:52 PM.


#6 Phil Cowell

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 09:26 AM

The AT111 is a classic.

 

aorion314 here, per a private conversation with another CN member, yes, the lens was produced in Taiwan, by a company based in Japan which moved its production to Taiwan, and per TMB as long as the production produced the lens to his design specs., it was not a concern. Additionally, many other big-name camera producers moved their production facilities to Taiwan in the same general time frame. AS an owner of a TMB designed Astrotech 111mm and the legendary TMB 130 SS both scopes have performed at an exceptional level and TMB designed scopes have held their value and esteem over nearly 2 decades of my possession of these 2 scopes. respectfully submitted.



#7 Brollen

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 09:35 AM

The AT111 is a classic.

I purchased used a first edition AT111 several years back. It was built like a tank and probably as heavy as one. But the views through it were fantastic and to this day, I feel my best views of Jupiter and Saturn were through this scope. For reasons inexplicable, I let this one go… would like to find another one day.



#8 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 12:16 PM

aorion314 here, while surfing I came across an old CN post (2006-time frame) by Thomas M. Black wherein, he stated that he was unable to state who made the lens for the TMB signature series, (possible legal reasons) and has acknowledged it is his design. Well, TMB has been long past from this earth, does anybody out there have any knowledge as to origins of the lens. The scope I purchased from Astronomics many years ago. So, any info as to the history that one has, please share. Respectfully submitted. 

 

With Thomas Back gone, that only leaves the partner in the SS venture Astronomics (Michael Bieler) as the only authoritative source of information.

 

I have data-mined CN for posts from Michael Bieler and published links I found two years ago in this post:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ics/?p=10669092

 

This is not a hard search, you can do it yourself. 

 

In summary, all posts indicate the original line (glass and finished lenses) came from Japan. I would need to do further research, but from memory the launch scopes were 130's, the smaller apertures came later.

 

The tubes and focusers came from Taiwan, probably the source of the confusion. The original focusers (first run) were problematic and replaced by FeatherTouch units. In my 130SS, a previous owner installed an Astro-Physics focuser:

 

https://www.cloudyni...tter/?p=1197473

 

I did find posts that indicate the optics from one scope (the 92SS) came from Taiwan, and the 80SS came from China:

 

https://www.cloudyni...tion/?p=8872273


Edited by Jeff Morgan, 20 June 2022 - 12:23 PM.

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#9 hyia

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 12:47 PM

With Thomas Back gone, that only leaves the partner in the SS venture Astronomics (Michael Bieler) as the only authoritative source of information.

 

I have data-mined CN for posts from Michael Bieler and published links I found two years ago in this post:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ics/?p=10669092

 

This is not a hard search, you can do it yourself. 

 

In summary, all posts indicate the original line (glass and finished lenses) came from Japan. I would need to do further research, but from memory the launch scopes were 130's, the smaller apertures came later.

 

The tubes and focusers came from Taiwan, probably the source of the confusion. The original focusers (first run) were problematic and replaced by FeatherTouch units. In my 130SS, a previous owner installed an Astro-Physics focuser:

 

https://www.cloudyni...tter/?p=1197473

 

I did find posts that indicate the optics from one scope (the 92SS) came from Taiwan, and the 80SS came from China:

 

https://www.cloudyni...tion/?p=8872273

 

With regards to the order of introduction, you do have that correct- a good memory you've got there.  I've got the order muddled in my post above, but based on this article by Tom Trusock, the order seems to have been the 130, the 80, and then the 92ss.  https://www.cloudyni...-tmb-80ss-r1672

 

I still don't recall the manufacturer even being named, however, or even if they were all done by the same manufacturer.  In any event, great scopes that now represent a piece of history.

 

Best Regards.



#10 Phil Cowell

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 02:08 PM

I have one of the originals and its not going anywhere. 

They are great for imaging as well.

 

I purchased used a first edition AT111 several years back. It was built like a tank and probably as heavy as one. But the views through it were fantastic and to this day, I feel my best views of Jupiter and Saturn were through this scope. For reasons inexplicable, I let this one go… would like to find another one day.


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#11 dagadget

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 02:20 PM

The TMB signature series was designed by TMB for Astronomics.  TMB was also involved in aspects of production as well.  There were three TMB signature series scopes, an 80, a 92, and a 130.  The lenses for the 80, which was done first, were originally made in China.  TMB was not satisfied with the output, so, production was moved to Taiwan and Japan.  The actual manufacturer was never disclosed as far as I know.  The current AT92, if I understand correctly, is an update of the TMB92ss design tweaked by Roger Ceragioli to work with the glasses/coatings currently available.  I think that all of these have the reputation of being optically excellent. 

 

NB:  I am writing this by memory, but more details can be had by searching for posts made by Astronomics/Mike who has shared some of this information in the past.

 

 

EDIT:  See post #9 below for correction of introduction order.  As noted, see posts from Astronomics/Mike (links compiled by Jeff below) for authoritative information.

THE current AT 92 is indeed tweaked by Roger Ceragioli. I have one and it is superb. I wish I had the one-page sheet for my AT 92 but it is not important enough to worry about. Would like to see a TMB 130



#12 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 04:57 PM

I have one of the originals and its not going anywhere. 

They are great for imaging as well.

 

Indeed they are. Currently all of my Astrobin images excepting M31 were shot with the TMB 130.


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#13 aorion314

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Posted 21 June 2022 - 01:01 AM

aorion314 here, I would offer (from a philosophical point of view) that TMB (the man) and his designs/scopes are becoming legendary to many who know the name TMB. And perhaps in a few more years as these scopes pass onto the next generation of users a "mythos" status for TMB may arise and show itself to that generation. Respectfully submitted. PS as to the value I place my 3 scopes, locked up in a controlled environment, along with my museum quality fossils.



#14 Rich V.

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Posted 21 June 2022 - 10:05 AM

 

The tubes and focusers came from Taiwan, probably the source of the confusion. The original focusers (first run) were problematic and replaced by FeatherTouch units. In my 130SS, a previous owner installed an Astro-Physics focuser:

 

 

Looking at mine, I'm convinced the tube and rings were Long Perng production.  Clearly the rings are, appearing identical to the rings of the Long Perng-made FLT 132s of the time.  The tube and tube hardware is very similar as well.  

 

I did have a problem with my tube, and hope it wasn't a common problem.   I did an effective aperture projection test and only got 120mms out of my 130.  It turned out the second baffle was installed too close to the objective lens and was blocking some of the light cone.  I got it positioned back into the proper location to achieve the full 130mm aperture of the objective.  Mine is one that came with the FT focuser.

 

Rich


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#15 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 21 June 2022 - 02:29 PM

Looking at mine, I'm convinced the tube and rings were Long Perng production.  Clearly the rings are, appearing identical to the rings of the Long Perng-made FLT 132s of the time.  The tube and tube hardware is very similar as well.  

 

I did have a problem with my tube, and hope it wasn't a common problem.   I did an effective aperture projection test and only got 120mms out of my 130.  It turned out the second baffle was installed too close to the objective lens and was blocking some of the light cone.  I got it positioned back into the proper location to achieve the full 130mm aperture of the objective.  Mine is one that came with the FT focuser.

 

Rich

 

My rings also appear identical to Long Pern scopes I have seen.

 

If you still have the old focuser they were serialized, I was told by the seller that was the serial number of the finished scope. Mine was #12.

 

There were also serial numbers (or possibly inspection tags) on my objective (#8) but that appears to apply only to the objective, not the finished scope.

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#16 peleuba

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Posted 21 June 2022 - 02:33 PM

aorion314 here, I would offer (from a philosophical point of view) that TMB (the man) and his designs/scopes are becoming legendary to many who know the name TMB. And perhaps in a few more years as these scopes pass onto the next generation of users a "mythos" status for TMB may arise and show itself to that generation. Respectfully submitted. PS as to the value I place my 3 scopes, locked up in a controlled environment, along with my museum quality fossils.

 

I don't want to rain on the parade of brand enthusiasm - but I think "legendary" is probably a stretch and even premature at this point in time.  I don't know your background, so am not sure if you know the genesis of the TMB designs and the trouble it took to get them produced in Russia and then later in the far-east.  Much of the trial and tribulation during the first phase of Russian production was, unfortunately, shared in a public forum between the business partners - some of what transpired was unflattering to both sides.  And, I can only surmise it was done to sway public opinion one way or the other.  In my case, it turned me off entirely to the brand.  My loss, I am sure.  I have friend, who is a professional astronomer, retired from Hubble work, who really, really likes the Russian made TMB lenses.  I have looked through his scopes a fair amount over the years, though not recently becasue of COVID, and have always appreciated the performance.  

 

My sense is that overall these are good designs with two being exceptional - the APM TMB 100 F/8 and the APM TMB 130F/9.25.  These may even qualify as best of breed type of scopes if one is judging optical performance visually at the eyepiece.  However, I have always found the mechanical properties of the OTA to be rough - screw heads rusty, poor application of interior flat-black paint, sagging draw tubes etc.  The very early silver and white iterations looked impressive, but were way too heavy for the aperture.  Also, there was a problem with the lens cells when cold.  The metal cell was made of a material (steel?) that, when cold, contracted faster then the glass it supported causing the optics to be pinched.  Initially, APM corrected this on a one-off process (one telescope at a time) - unfortunately the lens assembly had to go back to Germany.  APM later spec'd an improved lens cell. 

 

The TMB130 and the TMB92 are universally praised here and are unrelated to any of the previous Russian made TMB designs.  I owned the AT92 which shares its roots with the TMB92 and it was excellent.  

 

Thomas Back was a complex individual.  Thomas, while not trained as an optician, spent years picking the brain of Roland Christen.  He was also a good friend to the late Harvey Gryttenholm.  Harvey was a good friend of mine - we'd meet twice a year to observe at Cherry Springs.  Harvey brought Thomas Back to Cherry Springs on four occasions.  Interestingly, Thomas used a 20" Starmaster Dob when he would want to view the planets for extended periods of time.  The Dob had an excellent mirror, but Thomas sent it back to Carl Zambuto for a refigure after star testing it.

 

Anyway, fast forward to today, and its doubtful that there will be any new TMB lenses manufactured by LZOS except those that were already contractually in production.  LZOS, through its position within the Russian defense infrastructure, has been sanctioned.  


Edited by peleuba, 21 June 2022 - 02:45 PM.

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#17 Chucky

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Posted 22 June 2022 - 05:18 PM

Per Thomas Back in one of his essays:.

"Even if your telescope doesn't pass the star test with flying colors, please don't stop enjoying your telescope, and don't worry about the star test too much, unless it shows very obvious errors."

So I guess the Zambuto he sent back must have had a few very obvious errors.


Edited by Chucky, 22 June 2022 - 05:23 PM.


#18 TheSheriff

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 12:19 AM

I can add a tiny piece to the SS history... Early versions of the 80SS had a cemented lens.



#19 peleuba

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 01:26 AM

So I guess the Zambuto he sent back must have had a few very obvious errors.

Thomas was just like a lot of us….  “Do as I say not as I do…”.  
 

it’s been a long time ago, but I recall Carl Zambuto saying the wavefront error TMB was complaining about varied from a tenth to a twentieth wave with the latter being a very narrow zone.   


Edited by peleuba, 24 June 2022 - 01:29 AM.


#20 Chucky

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 05:23 AM

Thomas certainly didn't want picky people complaining about less than stellar star tests with his scopes. Just "don't worry about the star test too much". 

 

I believe he also sent back a new Astro Physics refractor too for refiguring. So I agree with your assessment -- "Do as I say not as I do…”.


Edited by Chucky, 24 June 2022 - 07:40 AM.

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#21 Paul G

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 11:21 AM

I don't want to rain on the parade of brand enthusiasm - but I think "legendary" is probably a stretch and even premature at this point in time.  I don't know your background, so am not sure if you know the genesis of the TMB designs and the trouble it took to get them produced in Russia and then later in the far-east.  Much of the trial and tribulation during the first phase of Russian production was, unfortunately, shared in a public forum between the business partners - some of what transpired was unflattering to both sides.  And, I can only surmise it was done to sway public opinion one way or the other.  In my case, it turned me off entirely to the brand.  My loss, I am sure.  I have friend, who is a professional astronomer, retired from Hubble work, who really, really likes the Russian made TMB lenses.  I have looked through his scopes a fair amount over the years, though not recently becasue of COVID, and have always appreciated the performance.  

 

My sense is that overall these are good designs with two being exceptional - the APM TMB 100 F/8 and the APM TMB 130F/9.25.  These may even qualify as best of breed type of scopes if one is judging optical performance visually at the eyepiece.  However, I have always found the mechanical properties of the OTA to be rough - screw heads rusty, poor application of interior flat-black paint, sagging draw tubes etc.  The very early silver and white iterations looked impressive, but were way too heavy for the aperture.  Also, there was a problem with the lens cells when cold.  The metal cell was made of a material (steel?) that, when cold, contracted faster then the glass it supported causing the optics to be pinched.  Initially, APM corrected this on a one-off process (one telescope at a time) - unfortunately the lens assembly had to go back to Germany.  APM later spec'd an improved lens cell. 

 

The TMB130 and the TMB92 are universally praised here and are unrelated to any of the previous Russian made TMB designs.  I owned the AT92 which shares its roots with the TMB92 and it was excellent.  

 

Thomas Back was a complex individual.  Thomas, while not trained as an optician, spent years picking the brain of Roland Christen.  He was also a good friend to the late Harvey Gryttenholm.  Harvey was a good friend of mine - we'd meet twice a year to observe at Cherry Springs.  Harvey brought Thomas Back to Cherry Springs on four occasions.  Interestingly, Thomas used a 20" Starmaster Dob when he would want to view the planets for extended periods of time.  The Dob had an excellent mirror, but Thomas sent it back to Carl Zambuto for a refigure after star testing it.

 

Anyway, fast forward to today, and its doubtful that there will be any new TMB lenses manufactured by LZOS except those that were already contractually in production.  LZOS, through its position within the Russian defense infrastructure, has been sanctioned.  

Another issue with the early ota design is the lock screw for the focuser rotation galled the metal. Later design changes eliminated this problem. Someone who developed a home fix for it posted a how-to online with pictures, can't find it now. It was a difficult fix because of the design of the ota. The focuser was attached to the lens cell with long metal rods to which the baffles were attached. The reason for this design ostensibly was to allow air currents to flow between the baffles and the tube wall, out of the light cone. The downside was that removing the focuser also required removing the lens cell, the rods, and the baffles.


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#22 John Huntley

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Posted 24 June 2022 - 11:59 AM

Another issue with the early ota design is the lock screw for the focuser rotation galled the metal. Later design changes eliminated this problem. Someone who developed a home fix for it posted a how-to online with pictures, can't find it now. It was a difficult fix because of the design of the ota. The focuser was attached to the lens cell with long metal rods to which the baffles were attached. The reason for this design ostensibly was to allow air currents to flow between the baffles and the tube wall, out of the light cone. The downside was that removing the focuser also required removing the lens cell, the rods, and the baffles.

My TMB/LZOS 130mm F/9.2 is of 2006 vintage but does not seem to have these issues. It's build seems excellent in all respects.

 

Are we talking about the earlier scopes that look like this ?:

 

TMB-long-short.jpg




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